Symposium to tackle growing problem: access to justice

Doug Ferguson

It's an issue more and more Canadians are dealing with: they face legal problems but cannot afford to hire a lawyer to represent them.

The Faculty of Law at Western is bringing together key stakeholders to discuss solutions to the growing issue of equal access to justice.

The Access to Justice Symposium will be held Feb. 24 from 2 to 5 p.m. in Room 36 of the Faculty of Law.

“The legal profession must deal with this complex challenge at both the national and local levels,” says Doug Ferguson, Director of Western’s Community Legal Services Clinic (pictured above).

The symposium will feature keynote remarks by Fred Headon, President of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), and Tom Conway, Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Headon will speak on the CBA report on access to justice and its impact on law schools and Conway will address the role of the Law Society.

Two panels discussing access to justice issues will feature former Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley and Legal Aid Ontario CEO Bob Ward, as well as local judges and lawyers.

 “This is a critical moment in the fight for equal access to justice,” says Ferguson. “The legal profession and law schools need to take action.”

Other panelists include: Pascale Daigneault, President, Ontario Bar Association; Nikki Gershbain, National Director, Pro Bono Students Canada; Michael Lerner, Bencher, Law Society of Upper Canada; Janet Froud, District Area Director, Legal Aid Ontario; Justice Jeanine Leroy, Ontario Court of Justice; and Bill Woodward, President, Middlesex Law Association.

Prior to the symposium Western Law will host the grand re-opening of the new Community Legal Services (CLS) clinic from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Room 126, Faculty of Law.

 “For many low-income persons, CLS provides the only means to achieve justice,” says Ferguson. “Last year our students worked on more than a 1,000 files. We’re very proud of the work we do and our new, expanded clinic space will help us to do even more to assist low-income Londoners.”

View full symposium agenda